Veteran reclaims his confidence and place in the outdoors while riding the rapids
A non-competitive, team-oriented advocate group of whitewater kayakers is giving veterans like Gerald “Jay” Hall an opportunity to try paddling as an adaptive sport.
Hall, a former U.S. Army air traffic controller with three years of service, needed activities to keep him from dwelling on the negative parts of his life following a spinal-cord injury and traumatic brain injury (TBI) he sustained in a motor vehicle accident in 2004.
He found the local chapter of Team River Runner (TRR) near Fort Belvoir, Va., and it gave him a chance to safely return to his former lifestyle. The exercise and adrenaline of the challenge, paired with scenic river views, helped him rehabilitate and make the transition to living independently after a family separation.
He was introduced to kayaking in a swimming pool, before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut it down. Thankfully, said Hall, that didn’t stop the group from finding places to put their watercrafts in for practice. The Fort Belvoir team is one of 71 national TRR chapters in 34 states. The chapter primarily paddles the Potomac, but also makes frequent excursions to the Upper and Lower Youghiogheny and Stonycreek Rivers in Pennsylvania and Cheat Canyon and the Shenandoah in West Virginia.
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